Not all small talk is of small importance, especially when it reflects serious social trends on campus.
With students in the throes of the semester, hardly a conversation goes by on the Hilltop without an enumeration, and occasional exaggeration, of how much stress either party is under. There is nothing negative in discussing academics or approaching a friend when one feels overwhelmed, but this culture of verbalized busyness has enough negative consequences to make it worth reconsidering.
Georgetown’s hyper-involved student body lends itself to a culture of overexertion. Problems arise when busyness becomes yet another source of competition. Comparing how many midterms, essays and meetings we have and how few hours of sleep we get serves only to heighten the stress levels of interlocutors. Enumerating and exaggerating our to-do lists makes the assignments seem even more daunting, while at times having the unintended consequence of making the other person’s time commitments seem inadequate. Georgetown’s culture of involvement is stressful enough without added reminders sprinkled into everyday conversation.
When engaging with peers – over a meal at Leo’s, in between classes or at the buzzing study tables of Lau 2 – we should seek to end this habit of casual commiseration. By taking our to-do lists out of the “How about this weather?” mode of daily conversation, we might find ourselves with one less thing to worry about.